Sheridan College To Rename the Whitney Center for the Arts in Honor of Tom Kinnison
(Sheridan, Wyo.) Sheridan College will announce the renaming of the Whitney Center for the Arts to Kinnison Hall tomorrow – Sept. 20 – at 7 p.m.
The hall is being renamed after Tom Kinnison, a longtime Wyoming state legislator, Sheridan College graduate, and member of the Whitney Benefits Board of Directors for 18 years. Kinnison passed away on July 1 of this year.
The official announcement will be marked by a mural reveal. The mural depicts Kinnison’s favorite view of Black Tooth Mountain, Kinnison as a young man, and Kinnison as a state legislator.
Many of Kinnison’s colleagues and friends remember him fondly.
“Tom was a truly remarkable man who worked tirelessly on behalf of Sheridan College,” Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young said. “After today, students, community members and anyone who visits Kinnison Hall will be reminded of and inspired by his legacy.”
The former legislator and Whitney Benefits board member played an especially important role in the life of Dr. Erin Hanke, who currently serves as Director for the Whitney Center for the Arts.
“Tom and Sharon would take the time to invite me over, even last minute, which just made such a difference since I was so new in town,” Hanke said.
Hanke added that, if it weren’t for Kinnison, her life would be much different.
“I can’t imagine having done any of this without him,” Hanke said. “It was just so, so important having his support and his ear.”
Hanke said that Kinnison had an incredible mind that analyzed decisions carefully and with painstaking detail.
“A 3-D chess board was Tom’s favorite metaphor, and that’s how he thought [of] everything,” Hanke said. “So the Whitney Center for the Arts was not only a labor of love for him because he cared so much and saw so much value in the arts, but he also saw how it fit in with building the community in general.”
Beyond just his mental prowess, however, Hanke said there were other qualities that made Kinnison an exceptional person.
“He also had that really kind hearted side and cared about people and cared about just helping people whenever he could,” Hanke said. “He never missed an opportunity to help.”